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Let’s start with the basics.  No, I am not talking about a pair of black pants, black skirt, black jacket and a white blouse.

I am talking about why I write a fashion report for ladies-of-a-certain-age. The simple answer is the fashion industry could care less about us even though we represent one of the wealthiest segments of society!

As far as I know this blog is the only source of fashion information for ladies-of-a-certain-age that takes into consideration our needs and wants. I know that older women have an interest in fashion and don’t want “to look like old ladies,” but are completely baffled about what to buy to be attractively and comfortably dressed.

The fashion industry focuses on skinny teenagers and young girls.  The market of a few retailers, for example, Ann Taylor is the working woman.   Apparently, women only work until age 40, because their models don’t look a day over that age! Once you retire, it seems they don’t want you as a customer.  Some retailers seem to cater to older women, for example Chico’s and J.Jill and Lands’ End; but, their models appear to be the age of our daughters or even granddaughters!

Further, most clothes are not cut for the mature body.  One reader of this blog told me, “I used to love Eddie Bauer; but now I can barely get the zippers or the buttons on their jackets closed.  Shoes are another concern for older women, many of whom told me they can’t remember the last time they wore heels.

So, ladies – where do we start?  I’d say to pick the best fashions now, let’s start with the two basics:

  1. Fashion personality – style that reflects our beliefs about ourselves
  2. Color, which ones are best for our coloring

If you don’t know your “fashion personality” or haven’t looked at it for awhile, I came across two great web sites to explore this fascinating subject: one is titled “5 Fashion Personality Types – Which One Are You” and the other is from Harper’s Bazaar.

I find it interesting that I always end up with the same fashion “personality” even though I have taken these quizzes at various times in my life. The names of the types have changed, but the essence of who I am is the same:  I am a “classic” with a little “casual” mixed in. Since I know this about myself, when I see clothes that don’t reflect my style, say a real feminine or hippy (bohemian) look, I know they are not for me. I have also learned that accessories are important for me since I like very plain clothes. I often find really great ones at unusual places, such as museum shops, consignment stores and even my favorite furniture and accessory store in Denver, Modern Bungalow, which has great jewelry, scarves and purses in the Arts & Crafts style tradition.

The second basic is color: the correct color for your skin type.  Each season, new colors, shades and tones are tooted as fashionable.  If I choose a piece of clothing, no matter how expensive it is, that does not go with my personal coloring, I look awful and wasted time and money.

Years ago, I “had my colors done,” at a special shop in the then trendy Grand Junction Railroad Depot.  This analysis showed that I am a “Winter;” appropriate colors for me include black, white, gray and jewel tones.  You can now find out “what season you are” by taking this quiz.  Because I am a “Winter,” yellow, one of the current fashion colors, does not work for me except as an accent color away from my face.

Now, that we have the basics, let’s look at the 2017 trends and colors.

Fashion for spring 2017 include: T-shirts with pithy printed statements, romantic patchwork, one shoulder exposed, big prints and stripes.  While hems of tops and sweaters are not straight, they are not as curvy or pointed as seasons past.  Khaki material is popular.  “Sneakers” is a variety of colors are shown.  One caution for ladies-of-a-certain-age is while this material may feel good on bunions, the flat sole may hurt our feet.  Purses are small. (I’m not giving up my big purse because I don’t know where I would carry all my stuff!)

“Yoga wear,” a style fashionable with the casual personality type, is growing in popularity.  Colors and prints of certain pieces may appeal to the dramatic fashion personality, and other types, as well. After attending my yoga class, I dress up my “yoga wear” with a tunic or jacket and a scarf.  I feel comfortable wearing it throughout my day and night, except to formal events.  (Most of my pieces come from Lands’ End.  I don’t know how much longer I will be able to actually try on pieces at Sears stores.  The store I was in last month was a ghost town and there was absolutely no help in the Lands’ End department.  Sad.)

Color trends for spring include shades of blue, yellow, green and pink.  “Greenery” the Panton Color Institutes’ color of the year, is supposed to calm us all down given the current US political situation, according to this fascinating “New York Times” article.

Finally, since travel clothes are so important for ladies-of-a-certain-age, I thought I would share with you what will be in my suitcase as I travel in a couple of weeks to Paris in celebration of my 70th birthday.  All of these clothes fit in my suitcase, which goes under the seat.  I know this wardrobe works for me because I have traveled to many international destinations. If I am on vacation longer than 10 days, I will rinse out a top or two and some underwear.  This minimalist approach came from travel guru Rick Steves.   I learned many years ago to “roll” not fold my clothes

I will pack: two pairs of black slim leg elastic pants (the same ones I do yoga in); four knit tops – two black and one white and one gray; one pair of black Clark’s shoes, one long knit night gown, a black down vest and one scarf.  On the plane I will have on another pair of black pants a “dogwood” color, light lavender, knit top, another pair of black walking shoes, a khaki Eddie Bauer vest with lots of inside zip pockets, a scarf, and a black Eddie Bauer rain jacket with lots of inside pockets, and silver color earrings.  I will carry a large black tote with my knitting a Kindle in it as well as a foldable straw hat and a small purse with a shoulder strap that I will use to carry minimal cash, lip stick and information while I am in Paris.  My passport, phone, credit cards and money will be secure in the vest or rain coat.

Happy Spring!  Heureux Printemps!

Copyright – Elizabeth J. Wheeler, April 5, 2017